AntipodeanSF Issue 307

By JS O’Keefe

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The prisoners have had only numbers, no names, except Hangin’ Joe, the biggest and baddest of them all.

At the morning roll call I notice that Hangin’ Joe is missing. 

Hearing the newest bad news, the camp commander is surprised. “Joe, the muscleman? Isn’t that the guy who’s always first to volunteer to do the hanging for a bottle of bourbon? I thought he liked it here.”

I tell him, yes, that’s the guy, and no, even chronic boozers don’t enjoy being held in draughty barracks in a forced-labour camp thirty miles from the Arctic Circle.

The boss, lover of western films, comes up with an idea. “Sergeant, put together a posse, lasso him up, bring him back and beat him senseless with a bullwhip in front of the others.” 

I’ve never seen a bullwhip in my life and seriously doubt the camp has that particular disciplining tool. Lasso is another item we would have to order in a jiffy if deemed essential for the operation. Also, in case you are a purist, a posse would involve the use of horses — we only have Humvees and Jeeps here.

Those are negligible details. Surveying the prisoners, normally defiant but all avoiding eye contact now, I tell the chief that a team of archaeologists preferably equipped with an excavator would have a better prospect locating Hangin’ Joe.

The prisoners burst into laughter. The honcho looks at me, what’s so funny? When I explain as to the possible whereabouts of Hangin’ Joe, he chuckles, too. The prisoners are laughing again, this time with the bossman. Many double over holding their midriff, others fall on the ground kicking and boxing into the air. The commander slaps me in the back and tells me I should have been a standup comedian.

It’s good to have a little merriment now that nine months of winter, icy and dark, is upon us. Also, according to reliable sources, there’s a hanging or two in the cards before we all gather as one happy family to celebrate Christmas.

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About the Author

john okeefe 300J. S. O’Keefe is a scientist, trilingual translator and writer.

His short stories and poems have been published in Roi Faineant, Scribes*MICRO, Every Day Fiction, AntipodeanSF, 101 Words, Microfiction Monday, 50WS, Friday Flash Fiction, Medium, Paragraph Planet, 6S, WENSUM, Spillwords, Satire, etc.

Issue Contributors

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antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often narrated by the authors themselves.

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Meet the Narrators

  • Laurie Bell

    lauriebell 2 200

    Laurie Bell lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of "The Stones of Power Series" via Wyvern's Peak Publishing: "The Butterfly Stone", "The Tiger's Eye" and "The Crow's Heart" (YA/Fantasy).

    She is also the author of "White Fire" (Sci-Fi) and "The Good, the Bad and the Undecided" (a

  • Sarah Pratt

    sarah pratt 200Sarah Pratt is an avid fiction writer and a Marketing Consultant.

    She is currently working on her first novel but loves diving into short stories to bring a little lightness, intrigue or humour to the day.

    Her work has appeared in Sponge Magazine and The Commuting

  • Mark English

    mark english 100Mark is an astrophysicist and space scientist who worked on the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. Following this he worked in computer consultancy, engineering, and high energy research (with a stint at the JET Fusion Torus).

    All this science hasn't damped his love of fantasy and science fiction. It has, however, ruined his

  • Juliette Cavendish

    juliette cavendish 200Juliette Cavendish was born in Liverpool UK and is of Welsh and Norwegian heritage. Juliette has an interest in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Science and writes in both Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction genres. Juliette was fascinated with space as a

  • Geraldine Borella

    geraldine borella 200Geraldine Borella writes fiction for children, young adults and adults. Her work has been published by Deadset Press, IFWG Publishing, Wombat Books/Rhiza Edge, AHWA/Midnight Echo, Antipodean SF, Shacklebound Books, Black Ink Fiction, Paramour Ink Fiction, House of Loki and Raven & Drake

  • Michelle Walker

    michelle walker32My time at Nambucca Valley Community Radio began back in 2016 after moving into the area from Sydney.

    As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I recognised it was definitely God who opened up the pathways for my husband and I to settle in the Valley.


  • Sarah Jane Justice

    Sarah Jane Justice 200Sarah Jane Justice is an Adelaide-based fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken word artist.

    Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry

  • Tim Borella

    tim borellaTim Borella is an Australian author, mainly of short speculative fiction published in anthologies, online and in podcasts.

    He’s also a songwriter, and has been fortunate enough to have spent most of his working life doing something else he loves, flying.

    Tim lives with his wife Georgie in beautiful Far

  • Alistair Lloyd

    alistair lloyd 200Alistair Lloyd is a Melbourne based writer and narrator who has been consuming good quality science fiction and fantasy most of his life.

    You may find him on Twitter as <@mr_al> and online at <...

  • Ed Errington

    ed erringtonEd lives with his wife plus a magical assortment of native animals in tropical North Queensland.

    His efforts at wallaby wrangling are without parallel — at least in this universe.

    He enjoys reading and writing science-fiction stories set within intriguing, yet plausible contexts, and invite readers’ “willing suspension of

  • Barry Yedvobnick

    barry yedvobnick 200Barry Yedvobnick is a recently retired Biology Professor. He performed molecular biology and genetic research, and taught, at Emory University in Atlanta for 34 years. He is new to fiction writing, and enjoys taking real science a step or two beyond its known boundaries in his

  • Emma Gill

    Emma Louise GillEmma Louise Gill (she/her) is a British-Australian spec fic writer and consumer of vast amounts of coffee. Brought up on a diet of English lit, she rebelled and now spends her time writing explosive space opera and other fantastical things in

  • Marg Essex

    marg essex 200Margaret lives the good life on a small piece of rural New South Wales Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, and several rambunctious wombats.

    She feels so lucky to be a part of the AntiSF team.